Memorials, Gardens, Ola, and Make.

When you come to Hawaii (provided you leave the airport), you’re immediately struck by all the differences compared to the continental United States. The weather is weird (it rains every. single. morning), it’s much more diverse, and the lifestyle is not as hustle-and-bustle as the rest of the country. It’s more relaxed. It also seems as if you’re in another country.

Maybe that’s because Hawaii has been a state for only 57 years, although our roots in the islands have stretched back much longer. One of the more notable parts of our involvement in Hawaii has been with our military, and our bases located on Oahu. The islands served as a strategic location in the Pacific to branch out to other countries and provide a line of defense for the rest of the country.

Along with war and defense, however, come death and destruction. The need for a war cemetery arose in the region. In 1949, this call was answered with the opening of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Punchbowl Crater, Honolulu. DSCN0713DSCN0718.jpgDSCN0722.jpgThe cemetery fills the entire crater, yet is not overly busy (save for the tourist buses that merely circle to the end and keep going). It has large memorials featuring the names of those who died in major wars in the region, from the Korean War to World War II.

The main cemetery then leads up to the rim of the crater, where Medal of Honor soldiers who were killed share a burial ground. DSCN0742.jpg
DSCN0743.jpgDSCN0747.jpgThe memorial is not incredibly large, but it offered amazing panoramic views of downtown and the ocean, as well as the mountainside. Nothing can make up for the sacrifices these men and women made for our country, but there’s thankfully no shortage of beauty in their final resting place.IMG_2227.JPG

After leaving one peaceful place of death, close by is another peaceful place – full of life. The Foster Botanical Garden just across the interstate is almost as quiet and peaceful, filled to its four corners with the native and exotic plants of Hawaii.DSCN0767.jpgAdmission as a (temporary) Hawaii resident was only $3, but the woman working the ticket booth did not even ask for any verification, so feel free to claim Hawaiian residency for the day. [side note- I accidentally started walking around through the back work areas, and no one even tried to stop me until I realized my mistake myself! I was a bit confused as to why all the plants were in rows and potting plants…]

some quick pictures of the plants….DSCN0788.jpgDSCN0790.jpgDSCN0832.jpgDSCN0834.jpgI even found a little lizard licking a flower, and got up close enough to take a video and some pictures:DSCN0848.jpg

I honestly have no idea if there are any botanical gardens in the midwest, but the variety of the Foster one in Honolulu was amazing. An added benefit is not having to worry about seeing any snakes while you’re walking, just lizards. Everywhere.

The moderate climate here makes any time a great time to come down and escape the seasons of the upper 48. While living here is certainly more expensive, you’re also paying for the lifestyle, and the relaxed attitude native to the islands. As well as the beautiful scenery; where else can you find all these plants and forests, the ocean and beach, and the mountains, all within several miles of each other? There seems to be part of nature for everyone down here.

And of course, what’s a trip in Hawaii without the classic shaka/coconut/heart picture?!?DSCN0808.jpg(p.s. The Lovely Bones was an amazing book! I finished it feeling much more appreciative of my own life, and determined to make the most of my own time here. The movie was good as well, although it completely branched away from the book at times. 10/10 – would recommend!)

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